Originally a Fall Harvest feast, Thanksgiving is one of the most important holidays in the United States. Right at this moment, my little sister and my parents in law are driving down to New York city to celebrate with us. Around 2 PM today, N. and I will gather around the table with our family to share a traditional Thanksgiving meal. While I await their arrival, allow me to share with you my first Thanksgiving memory.
In 2002, I had just arrived in the US. Those of you who knew me back then would remember that I had a pretty bumpy start in America. I had moved in with a host family whom I couldn't stay with for long (another story for another time). In October 2002, I was a 17-year-old girl in a brand new country with nowhere to live. I remember going to my Chemistry teacher in high school and expressed that I couldn't take the quiz that day because I was quite literally homeless. Just when it seemed everything in my life was falling apart, I met N. and his family. Skipping a great deal of details :-), I spent my first Thanksgiving with them. I remember N.'s father getting up very early that morning, scrubbing a giant turkey that weighed at least 20 pounds. He put the entire bird on the grill and fussed over it for hours. Occasionally, he would let me check and paste the bird, as he meticulously explained the details of the gravy recipe that had stayed in his family forever. I remember N.'s grandmother in the kitchen baking the most delicious pecan pie in the world, while sharing stories from N.'s childhood. I remember N.'s mom making a long list of Thanksgiving side dishes - there literally were so many items in the traditional meal that we would never remember them all without a list. I remember N. setting up extra tables for all the food. I remember N.'s sister coming home, bringing with her a giant load of laundry and amazing stories of the college experience. I remember us all gathering around the Thanksgiving table, eating and talking until we almost bursted - either from the food or from the easy laughter in the room.
And I remember feeling very thankful. I was thankful that I had found a place to live, got an A on the afore-mentioned Chemistry quiz, and settled into my new life. I was even more thankful that in a world filled with bumpy starts, one could still travel half way around the world and find a universal joy in the love of a family.
I have loved Thanksgiving ever since. The rest of the year may come with obstacles and roadblocks - but in my personal experience, life would often have straightened out by the time Thanksgiving comes along. Or at least, we would have found a way to make sense of it all and move forward. Because as we gather around the Thanksgiving table amidst our family's conversations and laughters, regardless of the circumstances, we would always feel immensely grateful to each other.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! And a big thank you to you all for reading our blog :-).